Writer’s Block creeps in

Writer's Block

You know the scenario.  I’m supposed to write something as though it has just flowed out from my synapses onto the page like proverbially gold-plated ink, and as easily and energetically as young mountain water babbling through a brook.  I have to be casually erudite, whimsically articulate and oh, so relevant.  I have to make you laugh, or at least smile, but also cause your brow to furrow in profound ponderance.

“Oh, I was just slurping a capp and having a quick leaf through the London Review of Books and thought I’d spin this little tidbit off in an articulate jiffy, but now I’ve got to go meet an unknown but paradoxically important intellectual friend,” is how the subtext of my copy should read.  “I’m, like, a fountain of whimsical, brilliant ideas!  And I’ve heard of lots of stuff, especially stuff that hasn’t happened yet!”

But in reality I’m tired, a bit worried about money, daunted by the economy, dreading the depths of winter and I can’t even think of a CD to put on (I’m old school) never mind think of an engaging subject to write about and a way to start it.

Do you recognise the scenario?  As I consider myself a writer, albeit an amateur or at most aspiring one, I ponder writer’s block a lot and thought I might as well share some of the ways in which I deal with it.

My favourite strategy is to get out a pen and notebook and choose to brainstorm ideas instead of write when I’m faced with the Block.  You might think that this is the last thing to do when your creative well seems to have dried up, but you’d be surprised how many new ideas come out when you’re temporarily freed from the shackles of whatever it is that’s ground to a halt.  But I admit it: this is procrastination to some extent.  What’s more it’s often the case that you need to complete and submit something in the very near future without time to take a break, without the time to sit around brainstorming.

My father, who was at one time a writer, and who may well enter the fray again I suspect, always advised me to “just start writing.” That is cast iron advice and there’s no arguing with it.  Writing is the main aim after all.  But I believe I could be forgiven for claiming that this instruction is a little short on detail.  Another technique I have adopted is to stand up from the computer and make a cup of tea, pace the room, and say aloud in free, informal language what I want to write, as simply as I can.  Then I just write what I said.  This invariably results in appalling writing to start with, but at least you have something down to tinker with and embellish.

My final piece of advice for avoiding writer’s block is to write about writer’s block.  This tends to be a one-use-only ticket!  The best strategy of all, though, is to give yourself a break, relax, go to the cinema, watch a DVD.  If it’s evening you could even go to the pub.  Take it from me the problem will disappear!  For a while…

Do any of you have other suggestions?

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